Lived my life without a care, walked the world for twenty years Where the wind would blow. No troubles... keeping busy... Downstream I sailed easy, Going with the flow. Sucking life straight from the udder, I let go both the rudder And the wooden oar. Horseflies, hornets, and mosquitoes irritated me a little, But I would ignore. On the bank I saw men gesture, as they offered me a rescue Unsuccessfully. Laying on the boatís bottom, my moonshine out of the bottle I sucked blissfully.             The banks flowed by the boat, as I was pleasuring my throat, Drinking myself blind. After having one too many, next to me I saw a granny Of the ugly kind. I sat up. I looked around. The boatís nose ran aground. In a rotten place. In my eyes the daylight blackened, and the old hag loudly cackled Straight into my face. Overcome with mortal fear, I called out: "Who is here?" Sobbing dismally. Once again she cackled madly and to me responded gladly: "íRottení is my name! "Cross your heart if you are wary, praying to the Virgin Mary, "She canít save you now! "Those who forsake their oars, drift to me, to rotten shores, "Like this horrid slough!"             She and I, in common harness, stumbled through the woods in darkness, Breathing heavily. She kept stomping onward blindly, by my side, obese and ugly... Pure devilry! Suddenly I saw a second, and she ominously beckoned - Evil, crooked wench! "Youíre walking to your graveyard! Poor lush, Iím gonna save you! Tears I shall stanch!" "Who are you?" - "They call me íCrookedí" - "You know, ma, you surely look it!" - "Come to me, dear son! "Donít you worry that Iím limping, crooked, hunched, one-eyed, and tripping, "Iím your medicine!" Even though she looked so foul, tearing up my guts I howled: "Save me from the fall! "Iím tethered here, look! Rescue me, by hook, by crook! "Youíll be paid in full!" I climbed her back, round as a turtleís, but Old Crooked walked in circles (Those uneven legs!). I was falling, crawling, wriggling, taunted by the gleeful giggling Of those demon hags! To the pit opened the hollow, brighdy lit, a world of sorrow: And the pit was hell! "Listen, Crooked, here is a pint. I will pay you back in kind. "Thanks for all your help! "You too, Rotten, Devilís daughter! Have some of this holy water "To forget your grief! "All this fat is gonna kill ya! Drink ten glasses of this swill, ya "Gonna get relief!" So both witches, Crooked, Rotten, latched onto the jar of rotgut. Soon I heard them snore. I retreated, slipping, sliding, and behind the tree stumps hiding, Back towards the shore. Grabbed the boat, began to row, rowed like mad against the flow, At myself amazed. As my Fates the botde relished, in their spleen they both perished Till the end of days!
© Vadim Astrakhan. Translation, 2012